Dot-coms seek comfort from Booz and friends

As many as 10 local dot-com startups are seeking assistance from a new ecommerce consulting venture led by Booz Allen & Hamilton (BAH), in partnership with Blake Dawson Waldron and Rothschild Australia.

Formally launched today, the yet-to-be-named program is built around BAH's international ecommerce initiative Ebusiness Accelerator, and is designed to nurture internet entrepreneurs and dot-com startups.

The three partners are working together as a one-stop shop providing consulting, financial and legal services, web design expertise and assistance with capital raising, said Martin North, leader of BAH's ebusiness practice and developer of E-Biz Accelerator.

Services are offered based on an equity model where the three partners take a small stake in the dot-com rather than charging a fee.

"We are using a client service model, providing high-quality consulting advice, legal advice from Blake Dawson Waldron and financial advice from Rothschild," North said. "Our equity stake would be significantly lower than a venture firm's, between 5 and 20 per cent. It's essentially one equity stake split between the three entities."

According to North, the venture is also designed for traditional clients who require assistance at executing their ecommerce initiatives. Traditional clients would be charged a fee for the service, he said. Additionally, the venture will assist dot-com companies in forming relationships and partnerships with large corporates and BAH's more traditional clients.

North said the venture will also provide opportunities for employees from BAH, Blake Dawson Waldron and Rothchilds to work on ecommerce projects easing the so-called executive brain drain. "We're saying you don't have to (leave our organisations) to work on dot-coms," he said.

According to North, BAH is expecting the venture and ebusiness-related activities to generate 50 per cent of its total revenues by 2003. Ebusiness projects currently generate around 15 per cent of revenues, he said.

Australia's BAH operation is the first office to launch the program worldwide. Similar services based on the Accelerator model are expected to be launched in the US and Europe soon. "The US is only one or two weeks behind us," North said. Although the offshore programs may take a different form, he said each group will integrate and work together, opening offshore opportunities for clients.

Entrepreneurs can register their ideas with BAH for consideration for the venture at http://www.ebiz-accelerator.com.

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